Love and Time

I’ve been thinking a lot about time travel lately. Not in the personal sense, but as a device in stories. How to facilitate it, how to make it believable, interesting. I’ve always liked stories where a person is living in one world and somehow crosses into another. Perhaps I crave these tales of crossing over because I have never felt I belong in this world. I’ve learned its ways, to some extent. But so much of living is navigating between the inner and the outer spheres – how do we let out what we experience on the inside? Do we?

I met a woman at a campground where I stayed in southern Crete a few years ago. She was friendly, smiling, traveling alone as I was. She came from northern Greece – Thessaloniki – but she talked about how special Crete was, how the water, “Kriti water,” was good for your teeth. The campground where we both stayed was just across from a pebble beach and we would lounge there in the heat of the day, sipping orange juice or the iced coffee slushies they like in Greece. In the shade of the trees which grew along the beach, we would talk about our lives, about our interests, about traveling, about love.

“Have you heard of this story, “The Valley of the Roses?” she asked me. I told her no, I hadn’t. She told me the story in her pieced together English: a man in Switzerland in the 1920s fell into a coma-like sleep and awoke in a different body, at a different time – about 1500 years in the future. The people spoke a language he didn’t know, but they recognized his German as one of the “old languages” and soon they put together that this was someone from a different time in the body of their friend and colleague.

I googled the story, but didn’t find much on the internet. Eventually I figured out the name of the man who had this experience and documented it – Paul Dienach. While he was in the future, he could not sleep, instead staying up every night to write down his experiences and thoughts, what he learned from his conversations, what he remembered from his own time, how different the world of the future was.

Last summer when my parents visited me in Seattle, I told my mother about the story and we discovered it had been published in English. Then I got so swept up in moving to London and starting school that I forgot all about the book, until Christmas this year, when my mom brought along the copy she purchased and passed it along to me.

It is one thing to do what I am doing in my studies of archaeology and look at the past. The past already has patterns we can analyze and interpret – it has lines to read between. The future is another matter entirely, where the lines are not yet drawn and we have little to draw upon but our hopes and fears, our desires and dreams of what the future might hold.

When I read Tarot cards, I always tell people that the future cards will make a lot less sense than the cards representing the past and present, matters we are already familiar with. We can think back to the past, reflect on the present, but the future is conceptually impenetrable – opaque.

These days I can’t seem to get beyond the three of swords. Whereas 3’s are normally a lucky number of growth, the three of swords is different – it bears a red Valentine-looking heart pierced by three swords, a rainy sky in the background, viscerally representing pain, shock, surprise, love-triangles. This card has been showing up in my readings for at least the last month, if not longer. It isn’t the sort of card you want to see in a reading, least of all in the future position.

It is a card I have gotten twice when I was blissfully happy in a relationship. Both times, I was riding a high of love and sex and believed no clouds were on the horizon. And then I read the cards, and the three of swords said something was being hidden from me. Neither time did I think to ask my beloved if there was something amiss. I preferred to dismiss the meaning, obvious though it was – to hope that it could mean something else – that the cards were wrong. Both times, I soon found myself out in the cold, the blissful feeling gone, along with my beloved, and my heart. It sounds melodramatic, but I do not love lightly. Perhaps that is part of my problem.

Paul Dienach was like me, though. A person who’s soul cries out for love above all else. A romantic. A victim of longing.

Paul had loved a young woman who was forced to marry another and died in childbirth. He held onto the sadness of losing her for years, never seemingly attempting to replace his dead love, but mourning her loss in perpetuity. Now, living in the future, he finds love again. The people of that time are more true to their emotions – they do not deny them, hide them, fear them as we do. The people there were guileless, accomplished at a young age, childlike in their fascination and appreciation for nature, beauty, and deep emotions. People love and admire each other for their capacity to feel and show love. That desire to merge with another is held sacred – people do not conceive of themselves as automatons or robots, following blind desire, trampling hearts. The basic starting place of all relationships is respect and empathy.

The Greek woman who told me about the Valley of the Roses was in the throes of new love when we met. She had found a “very handsome man” several years her junior, with whom she’d fallen madly in love. She had the gleam and excitement, the magic one exudes when everything seems possible. I hope everything worked out for her.

Love seemed to be all around me then, at the camping ground. A cute couple pitched their tent near me: an American guy and a European girl, looking happy and free together, and I couldn’t help but think about the man who’d seemed to be mine just a year before. I had envisioned similar happy adventures with him. I felt jealous of that joyous couple; I imagined that in some other version of events, that might have been us.

I’ve spent so much of my life mourning for the past. Holding onto sorrow because it was as close as I could get to love. Instead, on that trip, I was dogged by men who tried to get close to me, at least in the physical sense. They came on in fast sequence: first, the father of my friends (someone at least twice my age), then the restaurant manager in Santorini, next an English backpacker in Bodrum, and then a Turkish tourist guide in Ephesus. I was mostly left alone in Lesvos, then there was the personal trainer at Delphi, and finally a musician in Istanbul. Water, water, everywhere, and not a drop to drink.

It all added to the feeling I had that something had gone wrong somewhere. Somehow the magic had left my life and I wasn’t sure if it would ever return. I remember the feeling as I looked out over the harbor below Delphi, the twinkling lights of a distant village, the sky heavy with stars above us, and there I was with some stranger I’d met on the street, who’d invited me to dinner and driven me to this romantic lookout spot on his motorcycle. It was clear he wanted to kiss me next to that ancient sparkling abyss, but all I felt was the deep feeling of loss.

In the two and a half years since I was in Greece and Turkey, I have released a lot of that old sadness. It took time and work and a fair amount of distraction and self-love. Moving to Seattle seemed to help me to leave behind some of the pain of what had happened. New York had become a city of broken dreams and any new place was a respite from those old memories.

Now I’ve returned to London, where once things felt so right. But my presence here hasn’t meant a rebirth of that old love, though it looked like that was a possibility, for a brief moment. On the contrary, it seems to be a sort of final coda, tacked on to the end of an old song.

To return to the idea of time travel, I recently watched a series called The Outlander, in which an English woman is transported from Scotland in the 1940s to the 1740s. She is unable to go back to her own time for long enough to fall in love with a handsome Highlander, and then she doesn’t want to return, preferring to stay with him, in his time, than to return to her life and husband in the 1940s. When the two of them are unable to prevent a battle which they know, historically, led to the death of nearly all Scottish fighters, her husband tells her she must return to her time, and keep the child she is carrying safe. So she does, and twenty years pass, during which she assumes her true love died in that battle and mourns him, raising their daughter with the man she had been married to before her travels. When her child is grown, she learns from some old documents that he survived, after all, and she decides to return to the past, to look for him.

In The Outlander, the time travel is a device to tell a wonderful love story about two people brought together across hundreds of years and the cultural divide that comes with it, but it is what makes the story satisfying for a love junkie such as myself. Even when the two are separated by (apparent) death and time, they don’t let one another go. They can’t. I know it’s just a story, but it resonates with me, because that is the sort of connection I seek.

Of course, the world is full of people, but I don’t enjoy the hunt. I’m too single-minded for the games of love people play. I’ve had my fill of flakes and phonies, philanderers and fairweather folks. I’m fortunate to have found great friends in my life – women and men I will love as long as I am able. All I seek now is that pinnacle friend, a fellow follower of the one true faith: love. For too long I’ve felt myself a stranger in a foreign land, far from  home, even in the place of my birth. I’d hoped by now to have found my fate.

Finally, I seem to have cycled back through all the false starts I’ve made up till now. I’ve learned much about my own faults and fears, grown through my mistakes and felt the depth of my ancient pain. I’m ready to find my own family and to release the failures of my past.

I haven’t learned the secrets of time travel and the future is still a mystery to me, but at least I’ve made peace with the past. The task before me now is simply to feel my freedom in this present moment, and to move forward without fear.

I see in my own family the example of what not to do: in January, my aunt Elisabeth died alone in the shell of a life she might have left long ago for greener pastures. Love for her was found and lost in Miami, and she lived with its ghost for the rest of her life, forsaking other paths and embracing a past full of empty boxes, far from family, focused on her pain and what she’d lost.

After her mother died, she had no one but her brothers, far away and preoccupied with their own lives and families. My sister, Erika, was always the best at staying in touch with her. In the last few years before Erika died, I think she managed to forge a real bond with our lonely aunt. To make her feel loved and treasured. I tried to live up to her example, though I know I wasn’t as good at it as she had been. Dear Aunt Elisabeth, wherever you are, I’m sorry I can’t go back in time and be kinder, more loving, more present for you.

Love is really the only thing that conquers time. It is what binds us together through changes and years, through progress and fears.Wherever my aunt is, I hope her husband is with her; I like picturing her sitting down to a home-cooked meal made by her mother, my Omi, with Erika pouring everyone a delicious vintage. After dinner, they’d have dessert and play gin rummy and maybe even smoke a cigarette like they used to do.

Recently I encountered a quote by Martin Luther King, Jr.: “Without love, there is no reason to know anyone, for love will in the end connect us to our neighbors, our children and our hearts.”

I couldn’t agree more.

Love and miss,

Kira

 

 

 

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Independence

It is hard to believe we are already half way through 2017! Time does indeed move fast and each beautiful day lately is sunnier and warmer than the last.

The last weekend is worthy of writing about. Friday and Saturday evenings were spent, comme d’habitude, at the Triple Door. We had a fun campy burlesque show there (literally summer camp-themed acts).

On Sunday I had the day to do laundry and tidy up the house and my little garden patch before going to see one of my favorite bands from high school, Ween. They’re such consummate musicians and I’d hoped to see them last year – even had a ticket – but then my companion for the show ditched out and I wasn’t prepared to go it alone at a massive NYC venue. This time, I met up with my friend Peter and a group of his Ween-loving friends at his place in the International District (Seattle’s mishmash of China/Japan/Korea etc towns). Then we piled into his vintage Chevette and drove out across the great Lake Washington and to Marymoore Park, shrouded in trees of deep soft green. The sun sets late here in the summer and it glinted through the looming pines throughout the show. I sipped rosé and enjoyed the show immensely.

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It was over rather early and we all headed back to the International District for a little karaoke.

Or rather, a lot of it. I rolled out my greatest hits, as the place was empty and turns at the mic were frequent.

Unfortunately, by the time I got home, I was rather toasted, as dinner never happened. I say unfortunately, because as I climbed up into my loft, I lost my balance and fell from the ladder to my carpeted concrete floor. I knew instantly that I’d hurt myself, but I was so tired that I just crawled up to bed and hoped for the best. But the next morning, Sarah and I were going to Victoria, B.C. where much walking would be required.

The drive to Port Angeles was just a couple of hours, but I was hungover and carsick and once I looked down and my phone had butt dialed an ex-boyfriend to whom I’ve not spoken in 5 years! Christ, that took the blood from my face!

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Sarah got me an ACE bandage and I wrapped up my foot and hobbled as best I could onto the ferry where I was again wracked by nausea from the rocking of the ferry. Finally, we went to the upper deck, which was much more pleasant and I napped until I felt better and we disembarked in Victoria.

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Beautiful Legislative building – lights up at night like a carnival

It is a cute little port town, both European and American in feel. We visited the Natural History Museum and then went for drinks at the Empress Hotel (they serve a high tea there for $70 a person) – we got rosé and nachos! It was the first and last food I was able to eat for a while!

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Wooly Selfie with Sarah

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Rosé at the Empress

We took a cab to our Airbnb, a cute little apartment with a cat named Wednesday in residence. After a shower and a change of clothes, I was ready to hobble around some more!

We meandered south, sipping some wine Sarah had brought along, thoughtfully. It always makes me think of Erika when I drink wine al fresco from paper cup or water bottle. We crossed through the little Chinatown (one street, spangled with red lanterns) and looked for an open place, but many we tried were closed on Mondays.

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Finally we went to an Italian restaurant, very quaint, and they served very interesting food, but I lost my appetite again and wasn’t able to eat much. Frustrating!

After dinner, we tried briefly to find a bar to inhabit, but we decided to go home and cuddle the cat instead (not a euphemism).

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In the morning, we walked toward downtown for breakfast on Antique Row (and of course some book and antique shopping) before walking to a Victorian copy of a Scottish castle for the local coal and iron barons, the Craigdarroch family.

We spent the afternoon learning about the chateau and its long history as a music school and military hospital after it was no longer a private house.

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Then it was time to get back to the ferry. We caught a cab and made it just in time for boarding. I felt much better on this crossing and my foot wasn’t too bad. We got back to Port Angeles and then decided to check out Port Townsend for dinner.

There was another fabulous bookstore to be explored – full of treasures (and I was reading aloud to Sarah from a book of Joseph Campbell’s lectures about the Goddess as we drove, so we were quite inspired). Dinner was unfortunate again, as I ordered something far too rich and regretted it – it was drowned in a blue cheese sauce that overwhelmed me and killed my timid appetite again. Damn my car sickness!

Sarah and I made it back to Seattle just in time for darkness to set in and the fireworks to be set off! It sounded like bombs going off over my head and made me stressed and annoyed until it finally ceased. Ah, sweet silence.

I am still waiting to hear back about getting into school in London, but I am already looking forward to missing out entirely on the 4th of July celebrations. Not my bag atall. I’ve never been crazy about the English climate, but if I can handle Seattle, I guess I can try London!

Meanwhile, it was back to work for me yesterday, and luckily, my foot feels much better, thought it still definitely stings a bit and I might need to take it to a doctor. The best news is that Peter let me borrow his Chevette while my car is broken (if I don’t go to school, I might as well get Erika’s car fixed, especially as it isn’t likely to sell for much). So much up in the air at present.

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The Chevette

My garden is growing and I divided up my baby lettuces so now it is survival of the fittest. They are from a package of seed (from Walmart, no less) which once belonged to  Erika. I’ve had them for the last six years, though I never had anywhere to plant them before. Lo and behold, they’re growing!

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My sprouting garden

Strawberries were ripening more and more each day, enough to get a handful for breakfast each morning, but now they are slowing down.

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Despite my foot, I walked to my local farmers market on Wednesday and brought home fresh raspberries, blueberries, apricots, carrots and flowers to brighten up my little home.

My landlord is finally clearing out some of his art from the “groovy cottage” as he calls it – it was jam packed with objects and paintings and postcards when I moved in. Not that I minded – our tastes are pretty similar. But it is certainly more spacious- feeling in here, despite the piano!

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For last night’s full moon in Capricorn, I set all my crystals out for a sun and moon bath.

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Today, I met up with Sarah around noon and we got dolled up for a Steampunk Promenade around Green Lake with strangers! It was right up our alley, since we like playing dress-up! I’d say we both did a great job of finding Victorian-looking get-ups on short notice. We met people and drank tea and ate goodies in a lovely breezy afternoon, dressed like weirdos!

Mom and dad are planning to drive up to see me in early September, and I look forward to what adventures we might have!

By then, I will be without Sarah in Seattle 😦 What will I do?

Well, time will tell. All for now,

Love and miss,

Kira

Sisters in Seattle

I was sad upon leaving Sarasota in January: sad to say goodbye to my family and sad because I hadn’t gotten to spend much time with Skye over my two weeks there. With a continent between us and only a once-a-year reunion, it was enough to make me tear up when it was time to fly out.

So Skye booked a trip to come out to Seattle for a visit. Unfortunately, Florida in March is much nicer weatherwise than Seattle, but at least it didn’t snow!

I picked her up on Friday night and we had plans to go out to a fancy club (her former favorite past time) but she was tired and after we came home and drank some pink bubbles, we instead went to Pioneer Square and met up with the fella I’ve been seeing at the bar where Nirvana apparently played their first show: the Central Saloon. It’s got a kind of seedy old school feel and I introduced my sister to my favorite cheap local beer in a can (the equivalent of PBR or Gansett on the East Coast), Rainier, usually served in tallboys. We had a couple and headed home at a decent hour, her day having been very long.

Saturday was spent exploring Pike Place Market and the shops on Post Alley, shopping for souvenirs and checking out the funky stalls and shops. Then we moved on to Pioneer Square, where we found some South Indian food (miracle of miracles!) for lunch and then did an underground tour.

In the olden days of Seattle, the downtown sloped off toward the Sound in a way that meant the streets were often inundated by the tide shifts and roads had massive potholes, large enough to lose a horse in! Logs cut from the steep hills above were skidded down to the water on what was colloquially called Skid Road. After a fire destroyed the city, they decided to build up the low lying areas and diminish the slope of the hill, but in the meantime, they built new buildings with two first floors: one for the interim before the ground was raised, and the second floor also equipped with a front door and storefront windows in preparation for the day when the new streets would be constructed.

We had hoped to dine at the revolving restaurant at the top of the Space Needle, but it was all booked up, so we satisfied ourselves with a visit to the gift shop and then went to the bar at the Edgewater Hotel, which I didn’t realize was made famous by The Beatles and Zappa.

We met up with Sarah and went out dancing at Havana till we were done, then we followed Sarah to her salsa dancing club and watched her cut a rug in her element there.

We didn’t have much left on our list by Sunday, but we visited the Volunteer Park Conservatory and met up with Sarah for dinner and drinks. Somehow, I neglected to take Skye to the place where I work, The Triple Door, and instead we went to a place called Vito’s with live music and a swanky vibe.

Skye left the next afternoon and we made a few last stops before I took her to the airport to return to Florida and her family there.

I went back to work and back to trying to earn some moolah to make up for all we spent on our adventures.

I’m finally starting to feel ready to play music out again, after a few years of being rather retreated from the limelight. And I am trying to put my heart out on the market again, though it is hard to trust total strangers! Spring has started to unfurl her tentative shoots and sprouts and I again celebrated the Persian New Year, Nowruz. I had the day off, so I went shopping for the essentials: hyacinths, apples, dried fruit, an orange to float in a bowl of water. I found some fake pastel eggs at Target (perfect because I’m not that into real eggs lately) and Sarah and I each painted one for the hast seen table, which we set on my piano.

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The Nowruz spread on my piano!

Skye’s ex-husband brought back this amazing collapsing basket from Afghanistan and we used that to display several of the traditional items on the table: walnuts, garlic and figs. Sarah found us some sumac and I had some sprouting lentils ready.

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Sarah found a perfect recipe for a soup of lentils with pasta and spinach, combined with a yogurt and mint sauce – a traditional dish for the New Year in Iran. It came out really yummy, if I do say so myself!

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It was nice to have someone to celebrate the festival with instead of doing it alone. Funny to think what I was doing last year at this time: in Brooklyn, in the snow on the first day of Spring. And now here I await the awakening in the Pacific Northwest.

I love my tiny house, though it has recently been inundated with sugar ants from all sides. They seem to have decided to nest in the walls and crawl in to bug the shit out of me. Literally. God, they’re on me now. Die ants. Die. Sigh. What have they driven me to?

The sun shines weakly through the crack in my door, but it’s welcome – the end of winter at long last. Hopefully with the end of the rains my ant problem will also dissipate like the grey skies and the shadows of the past. I don’t want to let bitterness creep into my heart. I have always been something of a nostalgic, but I don’t want to be so backward looking that I neglect the present or the future. I sometimes feel that danger. So I must keep creating and moving and loving. Lately I keep thinking of the Chinese proverb: “If I keep a green bough in my heart, the singing bird will come.” This spring, I am garlanding my heart with green. I want to release the old flames that’ve burnt up and burned out. Those people I loved, those shining lights were sparks, not the sun itself.

I realized recently that my trip to the netherworld of myself and my psyche has scraped away so many layers of my external being that I must rebuild. It is a marvelous chance and a massive undertaking to recreate oneself. I have done it before, but it’s been a while. I recall how it feels. The pain and tenderness of new eyes, new skin. We Scorpions shed our shells to stay alive – to grow. Perhaps that’s partly why I’ve stayed single so long. It has been a decade of transformation for me. And it is hard to keep anyone close at such times.

But of course I don’t really ever plan to stop transforming. So here’s hoping I learn how to be with someone while I change!

All for now –

Love and miss,

Kira

Homage to a part of her

The other day as I left the house, the sun cast a rainbow onto the sky, arcing high over trees and mountains and bruise gray clouds. Rainbows are my sister’s calling card, ever since we drove into one, chased it into the rain on the highway heading back East from California the day after Erika’s memorial. Her little kitty Rosie was in the car with us, tucked scared and dazed in her little carrier next to me.

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Rainbow in Seattle – Erika’s calling card.

After I spotted this recent rainbow, I called my mother and she told me that she had just been in the process of writing an email to tell us that Rosie died the day before.

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Sister Skye cuddling Rosie in Erika’s condo the week she died.

They had found her curled peacefully outside in her little enclosure, where it had been a warm day and she she looked like she had been napping in the sun.

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Plugged in to recharge!

Rosie was a troubled kitty. She was a lover – a tiny Siamese with creamy short fur and delicate diamond marking on her brow – but she was also a pisser – and shitter! My first encounter with her was when I stayed with Erika in San Fran in 2007. Rosie had gone into my suitcase and peed and pooped on top of all my things, befouling the lot of it. Her gaze registered nothing but sometimes I wondered if there wasn’t a shadow of defiance hidden behind her cloudy blue eyes.

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Rosie squinting happily.

But Erika loved her. And she was cute. Erika had such patience for an animal who might otherwise have been euthanized long ago. She was traumatized by an apartment fire before she came into Erika’s possession and we’re not sure now how old she was. She outlived her savior by a bit more than five years. She lived with me in New York for six months before I decided I needed to leave New York and Rosie returned to my parents in Arkansas.

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Erika with our niece Catelin and Mojo the cat.

I loved her, but her proclivities were maddening and my cat allergies were unfortunately raging. Still, it was like having something of Erika with me – this creature she’d loved and nurtured. I took her to the vet and bought her nice cans of food. I bought her a water fountain and mixed canned pumpkin in with her food. She often crawled under the covers of my bed or curled on the feather puff at the foot of it. She didn’t poo or pee at first, but then she stayed with my cousins over Christmas and pooped on my cousin while she was sleeping. That was the end of the good behavior.

She had a blissful period of living in Erika’s and my old room before she befouled it so terribly that she was banished to the basement, where they furnished her with cushions and all the amenities, plus an enclosed outdoor area. Her first owner had declawed her, so she was pretty defenseless. I know she missed beds, though. Whenever I was home, I brought her up to sleep with me and she was on her best behavior (though my cat, Ivy, who also lives with my parents, was not amused by her presence).

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My little Ivy kitty curling up for me.

She pounced and padded and rolled around on the bed and her enjoyment was palpable. When I brought her to the porch if it was sunny out, she only wanted to be in the bedroom! She had simple desires: a soft bed and yummy food and sweet cuddles.

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Erika was always sympathetic to the needs of the voiceless animals. She had such a heart full of love. I’m glad we kept Rosie the problem kitty, in the spirit of my kindhearted sister, who sent a rainbow to remind us she’s not gone – she’s just existing differently than before.

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Erika and Rosie forever in my heart.

My dearest sister is now riding the skies with her sweet celestial Rosie. She’s already a part of the tattoo on my shoulder, held in Erika’s arms. I think this year I’ll have her colors darkened when I get my tattoo touched up.

Love and cuddles,

Kira